Open Thread: March 22

by cv harquail on March 22, 2014


Welcome to our Saturday Open Thread!  

Open threads are for comments on any subject at all, including past posts, things we haven’t posted on, what you’ve been thinking or doing, etc. as long as it follows our basic comments policy.

This thread will be open for a full weekend, from today until the evening of Monday, March 24th. We’ll open up a new thread on Saturday, March 28th.


Image: Old Thread, AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by FraserElliot, from Flickr


Multitasking Host Mom March 22, 2014 at 9:46 am

It’s that time of year again when I am thinking about taxes (in the US). My husband just finished helping our AP do her taxes, and she was shocked that she had to pay a few hundred dollars to the government. (Note: I know our AP sends a portion of her stipend back to her family, so she doesn’t have a lot left over.) I asked her if the agency had told them anything about this. She thought that the agency might of mentioned something, but that it was presented as not being a big deal.
Looking forward to our next APs, should I as a host parent give them more of a heads up about taxes during our first few days of training? Should I encourage them to put aside a little each week in anticipation of the tax bill? I do not want to get into actually holding the money back myself for the APs…even though that is technically what my employer does for me.

Dorsi March 22, 2014 at 10:35 am

I have in my handbook that they will be expected to pay “around two weeks stipend” to the US government. I also offer to keep $10/week for this, but none have ever taken me up on this. APIA I think send the APs a lot of info on this.

On a related note, it has always seemed quite unfair that the amount of tax you pay varies so much based on when you arrive. A January AP pays a lot more tax than a May AP (because you pay tax on everything above the first $3900).

My APs have gotten a lot of bad tax advice from APs and Non-APs. Make sure that she is using the 1040 NR EZ — the NR part is key.

AussiePair March 23, 2014 at 10:26 am

Unfortunately it tends to be a lot more than 2 weeks stipend! Unless in you handbook it’s taking into account when the au pair arrived, in which case you’re awesome for being so prepared and preparing your au pairs!

For me it was something more like a months+ of my stipend…

TexasHM March 23, 2014 at 10:45 am

Even a full year of AP tax is not even close to a months stipend. Did you have someone review your form? Did you forget to take the exemption? We just did a full year tax form for our departing AP and it was around $651-681. We are in a no income tax state though but not sure it makes that big a difference.

Dorsi March 23, 2014 at 11:17 am

We have a Feb arrival and it comes out to $500. $10 a week would totally cover that.

Has anyone ever considered deferring some of the compensation in the last few m months of the year? If we didn’t pay our Au Pair in December and gave her $800 extra in January, would the IRS have a problem with that? It would significantly reduce her tax burden (by about $100 for us). Of course, the AP would need to be on board with that, and it is a technical violation of the State Dept. policies. However, many professional defer compensation until January to change tax burden, so I don’t think it would be fraudulent. A few APs have been planners, could have waited for their Dec money, and would have really appreciated paying less tax. Any thoughts?

AussiePair March 23, 2014 at 1:09 pm

I would be all for that Dorsi! Or I would definitely be on board with my host family taking $20-40 per week out and putting it to taxes, and then anything that didn’t need to go to taxes would be a “bonus”, I’ve noticed that you don’t miss money so much when it’s taken before you get it. And I did everything I could to pay the least tax possible. Unfortunately it’s about $800 that I owe… Which honestly seems bizarre to me, I’m used to getting paid that much tax back home, but then back home my tax is taken out automatically

Dorsi March 23, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Are you an extraordinaire? If a regular AP is here the whole year, she will make $10,047. After the standard deduction of $3900 is taken out, that leaves $6147. On $6147 you would owe $613. And that is only for Au Pairs that arrived Jan 1. For every week after that, your tax burden goes down by $20 (about). There are some situations where it becomes more complicated, but those rarely apply to APs.

Unless you are being paid more than $197 a week, or you have been making crazy gains in the stock market, you shouldn’t be paying more than $613

AussiePair March 23, 2014 at 5:48 pm

I’m not, maybe I’m just doing it wrong… Or not claiming the rigt things. It’s all very confusing here, but I’m sure I’ll work it out.

Dorsi March 22, 2014 at 10:43 am

I think we are going to move toward rematch with our 5-week old AP. I am going out of town this week, and won’t rock the boat before I go. She is polite, responsible and not at all adequately managing the kids stuff or engaging with the kids. Her English is terrible, not improving very quickly, and I don’t feel I can coach her to an adequate performance of her duties.

She is an excellent driver and my LCC mentioned that she should have no problems in rematch. That is actually quite helpful — I don’t hate her and feel some responsibility toward her. The idea that she still has a chance for a good, productive year (maybe with older or younger kids), makes me not feel so bad about all this.

So, I don’t really have any questions (thanks to everything on this site). This is a first for us in 5 years of hosting. I have definitely been reflecting on what I should have found lacking in her application (because I do think that it was there).

Dorsi March 22, 2014 at 10:48 am

One quick question: Do any of you think it is worthwhile to start stalking GreatAuPair? We probably won’t have the chat for another week, we are open to her trying to improve (but I don’t think she can and if the LCC tells her she will do well in rematch, she will be out the door quickly, I expect), so probably can’t take a new AP for at least 3 weeks. I want to try to prevent or minimize any gap in care. (And thanks to the loud chorus on here, I will be very open to rematch candidates).

Returning HM March 22, 2014 at 10:26 pm

Dorsi, I’m not sure which agency you are with (I’m guessing APIA since you mentioned them in your reply re taxes but not sure). We just completed the rematch process with CC, and there were a lot of APs in the rematch pool, many of them with close to a full year left (they came in Jan). Since we already matched with our next AP arriving in Aug, we didn’t consider anyone with more than 5 months left, but if we had had more flexibility, there would have been a lot of choices. As it was, we felt we had plenty and are very happy with our rematch AP.

I didn’t find it helpful to look on greataupair (though I did). Yes, it increased the sheer number of candidates I could consider, but I was mainly interested in the LCC/HF notes about why the AP was in rematch, and that you can’t get from greataupair. So volume doesn’t necessarily translate into quality…and it can just give you more work if you go down the road of interviewing someone and liking him or her, only to find from the LCC/HF notes that there is a major dealbreaker for you listed there.

I would talk to your LCC and Regional Director right away and get them starting to talk to others and find good/suitable for you candidates who will soon be in transition. A lot of times, the LCCs can “float” an AP even before anything is official, especially if it’s a candidate they really support and are interested in helping to find a new family or a better situation. Our Regional Director did this for us and started sending us transition APs to consider five days before we officially went into rematch (we delayed the date because our beloved outgoing AP would then only have a month once we initiated rematch, and in his case, we had a lot of issues to sort out with the insurance for his ACL surgery – the reason he was going home – so we were reluctant to start the countdown of his visa expiring), and we actually started talking to the candidate we ended up matching with right away. This meant we had, in reality, seven days to interview/check references/skype multiple times/do comparison interviews even though only two of them were while officially in rematch. This translated into no gap in childcare at all. Definitely talk to your Regional Director or whoever has the power to get you started (or at least the LCCs looking for you on your behalf) so that you’re using this week before you make it official. Good luck with this!

Should be working March 23, 2014 at 11:50 am

Returning HM, where do you see LCC/HF notes on the reason for rematch if you are with CCAP?

Returning HM March 23, 2014 at 3:18 pm

SBW – the regional director has a whole write-up she can send you with the HF notes, the AP notes, the LCC notes, and contacts for each. I don’t consider any transition candidate without looking at these notes first because I don’t want to like someone, only to find she has had three accidents. Or waste my time interviewing someone who has not successfully bonded with the children in two families (both are actual examples of candidates whose profiles I read – meanwhile their applications on ccap’s website looked strong). Hope this helps

Should be working March 24, 2014 at 6:41 pm

I’ve never ever seen or been offered written notes. Obviously they exist because the LCC and regional director knew stuff and seemed even to be reading over something while they spoke to me on the phone. Never occurred to me to ask for them!

hOstCDmom March 24, 2014 at 7:26 pm

There is also the CCAP ” back file” on each AP, I.e. The part of the application we the HP don’t see! (This is from day 1, nothing to do with rematch.) It include questions that the candidates answer re topics such as feelings about being an AP for same sex couples; families of another race; different religions, what races/ religion they won’t match with, being an AP for a single dad/ mom, ages and number of children most interested in, preferences about area of the country etc. I find the answers to these questions to be quite illustrative- there isn’t a right answer (although there are right answers for my family) and it gives candidates a forum to share views on these topics, explain answers. I find I learn a lot that is important to me about candidates via these questions. But one had to know to ask for them! They won’t give to me but I ask them to read to me the candidates’ full responses verbatim.

Should be working March 24, 2014 at 8:12 pm

I got matched with an AP who only wanted smaller kids and apparently had that in her application materials. Mine are teenagers. I think with online searching those preferences probably get ignored?

hOstCDmom March 24, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Probably; I think they are “soft” preferences in the Application (even though they can be ver hard preferences in real life!) that aren’t tagged for query searches in the database via online searching. They are there for, and seen by, the matching coordinator, and Program Director , etc. but I wish they were visible to HP.

Dorsi March 23, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Thank you so much for the long response. I sent an email off to the LCC today. I will stay off of Great Au Pair — the few rematch candidates on there seemed a little questionable, and it certainly increases my crazy.

Skny March 24, 2014 at 6:09 pm

True about LCC floating Au pair even before she goes in rematch.
When I was with my first family (in 2004), the LCC kept saying I should rematch (the only reason family was still in the program was because I was still in their home).
One day she just came to visit and said there was a family in the area who was going to start rematch soon and we should meet. I met the family before I went into rematch (and they too).

TexasHM March 24, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Hostdcmom, the Q&A you just mentioned is all part of the profiles with interexchange. I found that about half of my screening questions with APIA that I normally ask APs in emails were already asked and in the standard profile at interexchange. I found that to be a huge help and found their profiles to be much more thorough than the larger agency profiles.

A's Mama March 22, 2014 at 1:38 pm

I’m a first time HM and things are working out great with our au pair. I had one question for you all. Our au pair recently mentioned she had to pay 1000 euros in agency fees before coming to the US. We were shocked that it was so high – basically 10% of her stipend for the year. Does anyone know what these agency fees are used for?

UK Au Pair March 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm

For aupair in America their progamme fee is only £400 and the exchange rate to euros is not that much its the other costs like visa, travel to the embassy,dsb check, insurance and all the other costs that make it that much! But it all depends what agency your with interexchange programme fee is much higher for au pairs. The agency fee probably goes to the people working for the agency! Haha.

Skny March 22, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Health insurance, air ticket, training, local recruits and office expenses in local country…

Host Mom in the City March 22, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Our CC au pair paid about $1500 and our APIA ones paid about $500. I would recommend au pairs shop around a bit. That said, between the $9,000 plus APIA gets from me every year and the $500 they get from our au pairs, that all pays for their plane tickets, training, LCCs, the initial interview process, the overhead and website for the agency, the ap’s health insurance, etc.

Should be working March 22, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Who actually owns the agencies? Who makes the money? These are not non-profits (at least not the big ones). And I do believe someone is making a killing.

AussiePair March 23, 2014 at 1:16 am

I always find it funny when Host Parents say they pay for the Au Pair’s visa because the Au Pair also pays for the visa. I’m not sure if this is something that needs to be paid in both sides or if the agency isn’t telling us everything.

AussiePair March 23, 2014 at 1:19 am

^^ that was in reply to host mom by the sea. I can never get my comments to line up where I want them to..

Also, the agency fees your au pair mentioned that she had to pay before arriving was more than likely to be separate from the amount she would have to have paid for insurance(if she chose to purchase extended insurance) although some of the agency fees must go toward the very very basic insurance au pairs are covered by

Taking a Computer Lunch March 23, 2014 at 4:45 pm

The visa fees are separate from the agency fees – the visa fee goes to the U.S. State Dept. and varies enormously from country to country (as in “high risk” citizens pay a lot more for a visa – and may be required to pay an additional fee to guarantee their return to their country of origin).

WestMom March 23, 2014 at 7:42 am

We are With InterExchange, and they are a non-profit. We pay $6800 in fees for the year (with multiple rebates, including return family, prematch…). I have not been able to find an agency that came within a $1000 of this price. The Au pair pays app. 500 on the other side. I am amazed how expensive CC is… A few year we found and au pair from CC and had transfer over to IE. I offered to reimburse her registration fee with CC and she refused, telling me that even with paying reg fee with both agency, the cost at IE was going to be cheaper than with CC.

Should be working March 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm

WestMom, and others–are there any disadvantages with Interexchange? Why hasn’t everyone switched if their fees are lower? How large is the candidate pool?

My number one and two reasons for sticking with CCAP are the DiSC personality profile and the fact that in rematch you get the previous HF’s contact info. If a cheaper agency with a reasonably large candidate pool could match that I would change.

Should be working March 23, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Just looked at Interexchange’s website, their “total cost” is only $200 less than CCAP. We don’t pre-match. We get all the usual discounts from CCAP, looks similar.

Anna March 23, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I have been with Interexchange for many years. I have left them right before they introduced online matching system, so maybe there were changes.
Here are the positives: flexible, excellent customer service. You save on transportation fees (I paid $35 for the bus from NY with interexchange, and $300 for “transportation fee” from NJ with Au Pair Care for example)
I loved my LCC. I also loved their dossier, it was very very complete and really gave me an impression of the candidate… probably the best out of five agencies I’ve tried over the years. So don’t worry about the CC’s psychological profile, try Interexchange too.

Negatives: out of five au pairs I had with them, only one was good and stayed a year. When I entered rematch they didn’t have infant-qualified transition candidates (since they are a smaller agency), I had to look out of country. They didn’t send one of my rematch au pairs home when they should’ve (they did send the other one who was awful home, but after my strong advocacy for it). When I tried matching with them last time, they had no candidates who fit my requirements (older), they had mostly 18-19 year olds. But to be fair, that was right when they were transitioning to the new matching system online, and it may have been uncharacteristic. They used to email you dossiers, a few at a time, and you had to say yes or no before seeing more… I felt I got very slim pickings.

It sounds like they’ve changed things. I am going to try them again next round. Another agency I was with for one year and loved was GoAuPair. Same positives as Interexchange, and they are the only agency that offers flexible arrival dates (your au pair can take her orientation via a video course before leaving her country, and come straight to your house… that way they can bring an au pair out of country the fastest… I got one in four weeks with them). Also even though they don’t have one on one matching system like CC and Interexchange, their pool of au pairs compared to families is very large and I never felt I was competing with others… Also they will match any other agency price, and they don’t limit the number of rematches (“satisfaction guaranteed” policy).


WestMom March 23, 2014 at 4:02 pm

My only con so far is that I find that they have few profiles from the country I pool from, usually about 10-20, with a few stagnating profiles. Considering we only consider girls, 21+, there are not that many options.
I also start my search super early. They seem to hold profiles and publish them within a certain number of months of desired arrival (APC does that too i noticed…). Because of all this, I don’t bother with their search engines. I basically do my own search on third party sites and refer my candidate to the agency for a prematch…

Should be working March 23, 2014 at 4:13 pm

WestMom, so you look on third party sites (like GAP) and then suggest they apply through Interexchange? Do you publish your profile and they respond to you, or you respond to published profiles? Those third-party sites are (in my experience) full of fakes and weirdos, is it not a lot of extra work weeding through all that? Is the discount such a great advantage that this system is worth it, or that you feel you get a wider range of candidates on third-party sites?

TexasHM March 23, 2014 at 5:29 pm

I didn’t go interexchange at first because we were a new HF and they didn’t have many APs in our area. Now that we are seasoned that’s a non-issue. We just switched via rematch so I can only speak for the rematch candidates I got (transition coordinator actually called me within 30min of reaching out, asked lots of questions and sent me exactly what I asked for – 21 and over, driver and good English). Within 15min I had a 22yr old French nurse, a 26 yr old russian elementary school teacher that played piano and guitar and a 22 yr old Spanish education graduate that wanted to be a teacher. Reasons for being in rematch – family kicked out, family concerned because 2 yr old was getting a Russian accent and personality differences. We matched with the first, second matched in NJ and is very happy, third was sent home. Those first two were best profiles I have ever seen in 4 years at APIA and we shopped APC and CC the last two times as well.
I am curious to see the whole pool next round! If rematch candidates were that good I hope the rest of the pool is the same! I just need one! :)

WestMom March 23, 2014 at 6:43 pm

SBW- I basically use these sites to widen my pool of candidates… I do set up profiles and receive a lot of applications. The majority don’t match our requirements, but there are definitely a few gems out there who take the time to read our profile in detail and apply because they are genuinely interested in our family. I also run my own searches and connect with candidates when I find their profile impressive.

A large majority of the Au Pairs I connect with are already registered with an agency. This speeds up the process significantly, bc they already have a dossier they can share with me. I often end up connecting with registered Au Pairs that have grown frustrated by the lack of visibility into the matching process. Some just want to be able to choose their family, just like HFs choose APs, and they find the system pretty one-sided in that regard. On top of that, some feel pressured by their agency to say yes quickly and prefer to take their time to find the right match. I feel the same way… That’s why we typically match 5-6 months in advance.

So far we have had 5 prematches through 3rd party sites. 4 or the 5 were already registered with an agency and one was not registered at all.

Host mom by the sea March 22, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Agencies just make a ton of money. We as host families pay for the visa and pay an exorbitant amount already. Agencies would say it goes to training and paying salaries.

Skny March 23, 2014 at 7:42 am

They do. A typical Au pair from my home country (the country I also recruit from) pays about $1000 to come. An air ticket from that country to USA can be bought from $550 to $800 (depending on season). I am guessing they must have a deal with airlines for discounts. So their $1000 covers their visa cost, their air ticket, and even their crap basic insurance (my brother just came to visit for 6 months, got an insurance better than my Au pair’s for about 120 dollars (for the 6 mo).
That’s why sometimes I wonder why am I paying so much for an agency when I would rather find an awesome caregiver and give this money to her (or pay a college for her, as community colleges in our are run about 6000-8000 a year for international students (with books). Oh well…

LookingForwardToBeAP(made it!) March 23, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Visa fees are paid by the au pair directly to the us embassy, nor the agency or the host family participate in that

Amelie March 23, 2014 at 8:24 am

Au pairs pay for the visa!

It’s not even included in the program fees, we pay directly to the consulate.

I don’t know what the agencies do with the money the families pay, but it certainly doesn’t pay for the visa.

In Brazil, we pay around $1000 to be an au pair. We also have to pay extra if we want the complete health insurance insteae of the basic. And we pay around $160 to the consulate for the visa.

TexasHM March 23, 2014 at 10:09 am

As usual there’s a middle man flying under the radar – the agencies in the home countries of the APs. They would say it’s for background checks (assuming they really do them), reference checks, interviews and they need to make a profit. Host family side agency would say it’s to pay LCs, regional directors, buy plane tickets, orientation/training inc food and hotel and make a profit.
This is another reason we changed to interexchange. I have found coming from a huge agency to them to be a night and day experience and although they are smaller (how much I’m not sure), I haven’t even noticed. What I have noticed is much higher quality candidates/screening process, much clearer and more accurate expectation setting for APs, an orientation actually in NYC (cool perk), ridiculously amazing customer service and oh yeah – I’m saving over $1k and it will be even more if our current AP extends.
I find the decision making very different (ex they do not hesitate to send an AP home in rematch if they have any reason to suspect she’s not a strong candidate for the next family vs profit agencies trying to keep them here to get their monies worth). It’s decisions like these and the thorough screening and expectation setting they do on the family side which make me think their costs are lower because they don’t have as many rematches and are looking for quality matches vs quantity of matches. Just a hypothesis. :).
They also track the APs and agencies (AP agencies) so if they have burnouts they notify the agency that brought that AP in and if they see a pattern of less than stellar candidates they put that agency on probation and stop taking their candidates. I love that! What a contrast to the big 3!

AussiePair March 23, 2014 at 10:18 am

I’m not sure about other countries, but I do know that in Australia CC make you take the background check. And by that I mean that they make the au pair apply and pay for a police background check. So in the end it’s still not costing the agency anything to do that.

exaupair March 23, 2014 at 11:48 am

Shame that the massive cost of joining AP program with an agency doesn’t even include background checks and Visas. This rules out many young people from underprivileged backgrounds, especially when they apply from a country where currency is much weaker than USD.
Although, recently I found an advert of a polish AP agency (where I was born!) that only charges 2000z in total, which is only about $660. No idea if they cover Visas as well but the initial cost is just a little bit more than the min. wage before tax.

LookingForwardToBeAP(made it!) March 23, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Also in Argentina, we pay for the background check, not much, it may be the equivalent of 5 dollars, but we do it, we ask and pay for it and when we have it we send it to the agency.

In my case I paid the agency what in that moment was 800 dollars, which is much more that a month salary for a single person, it is almost twice an average salary. Plus I had much more expenses, like traveling to get the visa, traveling to buenos aires, etc, probably around 500 dollars more. I spent 60% of what my family had saved in the last year. It was not cheap.

In my case I was told before applying that what I payed to CC “included”:
– helping with the application, which was more nagging me everyday so I would do what they asked, but I guess you could say it helped me do things faster
– finding me a family
– help and preparation to get the visa
– basic health insurance
– Plane tickets and transportation to/from my hf

When I was there for my last meeting before traveling, I asked why are we told we pay the tickets and host families are told the same, and they answered me that what we pay is “to be part” of the program and everything else was covered by the family. Besides the difference in the first speech and this, I really didn’t like this because she made it sound as we should feel indebted to our HF because they pay so much for us, when we au pairs pay a lot too, and where else have you seen that you have to pay more than a month salary to actually get a job? I know this program is different in so many ways to other jobs, and I am really (really!!) happy with my hf, but I am not in any way indebted to them, I make my part, they make their part, and we are both happy with each other, and we are all very grateful to be in this situation.

The agency fees are fishy, and it sucks, most au pairs and host families don’t ever wonder or ask about this, they just think they are the ones paying more. Most of my au pair friends have no idea how much the families pay and are very surprised when they find out (I guess the fact that CC argentina does tell you this is good in some way) and most families think we don’t pay a thing.

Nina March 22, 2014 at 11:39 pm


We have o new au pair who like a lot. She is an extension ap in her second year with great reviews from first family.

By accident we found out that she used cut herself. She doesn’t know we know.

What would you do?


HRHM March 23, 2014 at 9:38 am

Used to as in when she was 14 or more like last month? This also matters… If she made it through a year with another family and didn’t re-start, then chances are she has found other ways to deal with her stress and that’s a good thing. If she is still doing it on occasion, I’m not sure how you would know and/or what you would do about it. If it was bad enough that you are seeing evidence and your kids are noticing, then I’d ask the agency to send her home. She needs psychiatric help and the travel insurance doesn’t pay for that.

hOstCDmom March 23, 2014 at 2:30 am

You found out she *used to* or she *is presently* cutting herself?

How did you find out ? Scars? From AP herself?

A.L. March 23, 2014 at 8:37 am

I wrote an email to the kind lady who runs this website but now I’ve noticed this open thread and thought I’d post my question here. I’ll just copy and paste parts of what I wrote already.

“Have you ever known any Canadian au pairs? I know there’s all sorts of different agencies and you’ve probably never had one yourself but do you know or have you come in contact ever with anyone who did? I know there are au pairs in America who come from Australia and England which are both similar cultures to American since obviously all three countries are considered Western but like I said, never seen Canadian au pairs. I called Au Pair Care about this and they said Canadians aren’t treated any different but at the same time the rep I talked to was trying really hard to get me to pay the down payment even before I made my decision, and was really rude when I refused. So now I don’t know whether he was just saying that to get money out of me. I guess the thing is because I live right beside the states, I keep thinking it’ll make it harder for me to get the J1 visa. I feel like I’ll be questioned about why I’m choosing to do this when I can go to the states at anytime and maybe they might think I’m trying to live there.”

So yeah, I live beside Detroit right at the border, I can go to the U.S. at anytime but I’d still love to be an Au Pair. Making extra money doesn’t hurt and obviously living in NY for a year is obviously different and much for fun than just being there for a weekend (was just using NY as an example, don’t really mind where).

Do you think I’ll be treated the same as any other foreigner during visa process?

AussiePair March 23, 2014 at 10:22 am

I wouldn’t think you would be treated much differently, I would assume coming from a country so similar to the U.S that you would be considered “low flight risk”. I can’t actually tell you though as I don’t have any experience in this, I would suppose most Canadian au pairs would tend to choose to go places like Europe or maybe even Australia.

WestMom March 23, 2014 at 10:24 am

That’s a great question. I am Canadian myself and I considered looking at Canadian candidates, but found that my agency does not have a partner over there. In my circles up there, no one even knows what an au pair is, so very few even consider this option. The few candidates I reviewed on 3rd party web sites were typically looking for short summer stints which do not satisfy the US AP program. So all in all, I exhausted my search rather quickly. Best of luck to you and if you find an answer to your question, please report back. I would love to know!

MommyMia March 23, 2014 at 11:54 am

We were actually looking for a Canadian AP two years ago and couldn’t find any, except through We needed strong English skills for a child with reading/learning difficulties, and a good driver to take kids to activities. I think you’d easily find a match for those needing those qualities. We ended up dropping out of AP program that year and hiring a recent US college grad instead, who wanted a “gap year” before starting her real career and it worked out well for everyone. Since we saved $7000+ on agency fees, we were able to pay our “part-time, live-in nanny” more than the AP stipend and she was able to save on room & board so she would have a down payment for her own place when she found a job in her chosen field Win-Win. Now back in AP program again and frustrated with its many shortcomings and huge expense.

Taking a Computer Lunch March 23, 2014 at 1:40 pm

I have seen plenty of Canadian applications (we use APIA and can only see special-needs willing candidates). Most of the applications we have seen have been from extremely religious candidates (this may be the special needs willing pool), so have only sent our “dare to match with us” email only a few over the years. We have never gone to a telephone/Skype interview with any. There have been a few Canadian APs in our cluster over the years, but never more than one every few years.

I would say that if you have your heart on being in New York, do your research on which agencies have a large pool of New York families – and be open to families from other regions. With Megabus and other inexpensive bus systems, it is still possible to have plenty of NY adventures without living there.

Think hard about your application and what you would bring to a US HF. I’ll be blunt here – if I have to choose between two equal applications, I would be more likely to consider a non-Canadian application – unless the candidate were Quebecois.

TexasHM March 23, 2014 at 10:35 am

I would love a Canadian AP and I bet you’d be attractive to many families if you are a good driver and English speaker (think about what HFs want). Only concern might be that you might get bored or if times got tough it would be super easy for you to bail out and go home but if you had good reasons for coming and had a strong understanding of what the program really is like I would totally consider you. Good luck!

TexasHM March 23, 2014 at 10:42 am

To answer your actual question (sorry), I saw one Canadian AP while I was at APIA but she got snatched up quickly because she had the qualities I mentioned before. Apparently there used to be TONS of English APs until the shaken baby case. I think you’re not seeing many because perhaps the awareness of/popularity of the AP program is not high in Canada. Do you know anyone who has done it? How did you find out about it?

Dorsi March 23, 2014 at 11:24 am

There is an Canadian AP in our cluster (APIA). I have only met her once and she seemed lovely. She had definite (non-child care) goals with her AP year. I personally don’t want a Canadian AP, because I really believe in the cultural exchange aspect of the program and enjoy being able to see an AP grow and learn our language, customs, etc. I understand Canada is not the same as the US, but there would be very little surprising an AP. I would also be concerned that she could easily jump ship — go home, get a different visa, etc.

However, I think many host parents would love a Canadian — as mentioned, the biggest concerns for a lot of people are driving and language. Also, you would have a definite visa advantage — I would imagine Canadian AP visas are never denied (in contrast to some Asian and South American visas).

CADinAUS March 24, 2014 at 6:05 am

As a Canadian aupair in Australia I’m just finishing my year. I considered the US briefly however didn’t like the agency fees. It’s a lot for both the families and the au pairs. I also felt that there wasn’t going to be enough of a cultural exchange. I’m going to England next, sticking to english speaking countries but am still able to learn about a different culture.

EnglishAuPair March 23, 2014 at 10:55 am

I am in the process of becoming an au pair with APIA and it is expensive. I have to pay……
?Agency fee- £399
?Insurance- £290
?Visa application fee- $160
?Medical Form- £80
?TB vaccination- £140
?Criminal record check- £44
?International Drivers Permit- £ 10
?Travel costs to Embassy and interview- £ £40

Ukaupair March 24, 2014 at 6:33 am


Mines the same! Cant believe the TB vaccine is that much like. I payed £15 for my medical and my tb is going to be £80-£150!

Peachtree Mom March 23, 2014 at 11:37 am

About the taxes, our first aupair paid her taxes the first year because she wanted to extend a second year. At the end of her second year, she did not pay. I said my little speech about taxes paying for roads that she used and the university she attended for ESL but she still did not pay. At first I was so mad but then thought what a dumb thing to get mad about. I read IBM is in the 10% bracket. The aupair we have now does not plan on filing taxes but sadly she chose not to extend a second year. I offer to help but then it leave alone.

Should be working March 23, 2014 at 11:57 am

When my husband has offered to quickly do the AP’s taxes on his TurboTax, he has always ended up offering to pay them. . . . we are softies and he is softer than I am. But since we are a July-starting family it’s not much money.

Should be working March 23, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Another topic: CCAP has more than once (upon rematch and upon a new yearlong match) sent me a voucher with no discounts applied. When I point it out the (wonderful, competent) regional director apologizes, says regretfully that “those vouchers are produced automatically” and they need to be “updated by hand”.

Is it just me, or does that mean that basically CCAP bills you for the full amount and hopes that you, the customer, point out where discounts are due? Anyone else from CCAP have this problem? I love our regional director but I wonder if this is a seamy element in their system.

hOstCDmom March 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm

I’ve had exactly the same experience…8 times over! It does seem to be a CCAP business model….

Sme thing re referral bonuses; when I have referred someone who has matched (a few times over the years) I have literally had to chase CCAP to the ends of the earth, over weeks, to get the referral bonus/credit

Anna March 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm

I referred many people to them over one year, I couldn’t confirm that they matched (they were friends of friends…) and didn’t write down their information for my record… CC claimed they don’t track referrals, I got no promised incentives.
At the same time I kept getting checks in the mail from the AuPairCare for referrals when I was no longer with them…

TexasHM March 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm

I had the same issue with APIA. Plus fight for every discount and check EVERY invoice. So glad I switched!

BigBoysMom March 23, 2014 at 1:10 pm

The second year with our fabulous AP is set to come to an end this summer. She is engaged to an American and will be getting married this summer instead of returning home at the end of her second year. Is there any way for her to get the return flight costs credited towards a future flight home (for use at some point after her green card process has been completed) or is there a way for me to request a credit for those costs since the program wont have to incur them?

WestMom March 23, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I am going on a whim here, but if doesn’t go back and decides to stay, she is likely in breach of her contract with the agency and I can’t see why they would agree to pay for a future flight back home. Not sure if you would get a credit either but that seems more likely that the first scenario…

WestMom March 23, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I would also add she may want to start documenting her short relationship with her fiancé to prepare for the green card interview. I would suspect they pay more scrutiny in these types of cases…

TexasHM March 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm

Our AP did this and no, they either go home at the end or no plane ticket. Also, if they want to travel on their way home (like hit London for a week then back to brazil) the agency will only pay the US to London leg of the flight. Just FYI. And there’s no way you are getting a credit they will say you (HF) don’t pay for that in your agency fees.

Momma Gadget March 24, 2014 at 11:56 am

Our Ap is heading out soon too. The Agency said they had no problem booking through another country, as long as the AP pays the difference ( if there is one).

They would not credit the airfare home if the AP decided to stay past their travel month.

TexasHM March 24, 2014 at 12:02 pm

And yes, she should start documenting everything because the interviews for green cards for our ex-AP was very very thorough.

Peachtree Mom March 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm

This kind of a different thread that I have wondered about. Our present aupair who is wonderful had a car accident last fall. She was on her off time, going to her friend’s house. Clearly her fault with a left turn without waiting for the arrow. She is from Germany, good driver (or seemed to be), got through a driving course etc. Clear case of not paying attention or being in a hurry. It was early afternoon, no traffic on the road, beautiful sunny day. We are insured to the hilt with a balloon policy but the car she hit had 5 people in it. Although no one went to the hospital, all medical help was refused, there are two lawsuits pending. Our insurance will cover it but the shock of it sent shivers down our spine. The “what if” had she really seriously hurt someone or multiple people and then the chance of losing everything we have worked for. Although we love her and love having an aupair (she is our second one, our first stayed with us for two years), this liability has us rethinking about doing this for a third time. Is there a way to lessen liability or is this the price of doing business? We have thought about buying a car and putting it in her name and paying for her own separate insurance policy and then having her “sell” us back the car when she is finished for the year or two. I realize she can sell the car to someone else with her name on the title but my husband says it is cheaper to lose the cost of an $8,000 car vs our retirement fund and house. Has anyone else run into this? The accident where our SUV was totaled was bad enough, but we replaced the SUV….no problem. It is the lawsuits that are giving us ulcers. Is there a way of lessening liability?

Taking a Computer Lunch March 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm

We have hosted 9 APs in the last 12 years. Only three had any car issues – one went off the road during a snowstorm early in the morning coming home from her boyfriend’s house and paid for herself to be pulled out of the ditch. One bumped a car in bumper-to-bumper traffic and photographed the other person’s “banger” of a car of our pristine sub-compact (our cheapie AP car) – and our insurance refused to pay for his multiple claims. One failed to yield at a stop sign and rammed into the side of a SUV which had the right of way, ripping off the front bumper of the car (she called us in the middle of the night to say she couldn’t drive home because the headlight was broken – she didn’t have the English to say what had really happened).

About two months after the latter accident two things happened: the underwriter threatened to cancel our policy unless that AP obtained a U.S. driver’s license and it now requires all of our APs to obtain a license within two months of arrival. (Our state permits APs to drive during their first year on an International Driver’s License.) Fortunately the AP car was not totaled and insurance picked up everything but the deductible for which our AP paid. We immediately suspended her overnight driving privileges. While we did not eliminate her curfew, we applied a curfew to the car, which had to be home 8 hours before her next shift (arguing that she was less likely to get in an accident).

We did not pass along the curfew to her successor – we believe in a fresh start, and our current AP has had no issues in driving. She is a little older and a lot more mature.

Can you wipe out liability? No. APs tend to be younger than HP (not always, I have known a few HMs who were the same age as their APs), and younger drivers always have a bigger risk. But if your area has a driving-assessment program, it might make you feel better about your newly arrived AP. We have off-duty police officers who run a driving assessment program that we have found useful for the couple of APs who needed it. The majority have come with excellent skills and have gone out on assessments with HD, who then sits in the passenger seat with them on a few runs as they learn to feel comfortable getting to key points in our area. (GPS has helped enormously in that regard.)

WestMom March 23, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Curious. I just read trough the travel/health insurance for InterExchange and there is liability coverage for $500,000. Couldn’t that be used in a situation like this?

TexasHM March 23, 2014 at 5:20 pm

True APIA has insurance as well, I’d definitely escalate to the agency and see what they say.

WestMom March 23, 2014 at 8:03 pm

My mistake, it’s 100k liability (25k property damage), not 500k like I previously mentioned.

Momma Gadget March 24, 2014 at 12:35 pm

In Our state it is required that anyone living here must get a state DL within 3 months.
One AP did major damage to our car, but it was not her fault. She was actually too cautious and one of our obnoxiously aggressive soccer mom’s got impatient that she was driving the sped limit and made a left turn into her. An ambulance was called for the woman’s child.Thankfully the child was fine. Peachtree Mom- we were nervous about a possible law suit too… but none was ever filed.

Another AP backed into a good friends brand-new bright red SUV in our driveway her first week on her own. The police were none too happy with her international DL since she hadn’t been here long enough to take her state driving test. No one was hurt and my friendship with the other party survived.

Our insurance covered both instances, with no repercussions.

We live in a litigious society. It can be nerve racking. A while back My husband was involved in an 8 car accident. 3 cars in front of him a woman stopped short on a major highway in the fast lane. My husband and the 2 cars in front of him screeched to a halt in time. Unfortunately 3 cars behind him a doctor yacking on his cellphone did not.He caused a chain reaction, resulting in over 10K worth of damage to our then new car. Luckily no one was seriously hurt… except the Dr who caused all the damage. He broke his hand and tried to sue everyone else involved in the accident, stating that they had improperly maintained their cars. He lost of course.The insurance Co handled it, but we were very nervous.

Peachtree Mom-discuss this with your insurance company, and your lawyer. I would think that at long as your AP has a state DL, and your cars are properly maintained then your liability is limited. But Sadly,there are opportunists out there, who are always looking for a free ride. They will try to sue no matter what. For us, our first priority is finding the best childcare solution for our children, and we had to let go of this worry.

Anna March 23, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Continuing on the topic of meeting other host moms in the area for lunch, coffee or a playdate… We’ve set up a secret Facebook group for organizing such meetings for DC area host moms (especially montgomery county MD but all from the DC area are welcome). In order to join this group you have to facebook-friend or email one of the administrators (myself). Please email if you want to be added. Include your nickname here and brief info about yourself (this is for hostparents only)

cv harquail March 24, 2014 at 6:29 am

Anna, when you all do get together, will you take a few photos ( with a clever way to hide your faces ) and send them to us with a story about your meeting? I wish I could drive down to DC to join you — I’d love to meet you in person! But a vicarious thrill from a story or post might be fun…….

Host mom by the sea March 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm

i just posted this on the mediocre au pair subheading but people may not be reading it anymore:

My AP met an AP (not here with any organization, living on an expired visa, paid only in cash) that seems a little wild.

For the past three weekends (weekends are always off) she has come home hung over and exhausted after staying with different men.

I don’t want to interfere but it leaves me feeling very unsettled.

Also, because this new friend is not with an agency, she is being paid a bit more in cash and I keep hearing comparisons. Should I address these things?

She is great with our two kids, although now she is always exhausted Monday and even Tuesday after her weekend.

The only tasks I ask is to clean up after her dishes and the baby bottles. She never does this. I can’t decide whether to extend if she wants to extend. Am I being to hard on her ?

WestMom March 23, 2014 at 2:06 pm

I would question why extending with her? With the behavior you are describing, I very much doubt AP would be extending because she just loves her relationship with your family, and likely because she wants to continue her party life with her new buddy… I personally would not support or enable that…

HRHM March 23, 2014 at 5:56 pm


I’d be moving toward rematch myself. If there is one thing I’ve learned over 6 years and as many Au Pairs, it’s that they only get worse over time, never better. If you aren’t thrilled with how things are going right this minute, prepare yourself for the future. Right now it’s time to sit her down, have the “reset conversation” and get the LCC involved. Give her two weeks to get her $h!t together, do her job and stop living like she’s an episode of “Entourage”. If she won’t or can’t, then it’s time to move on.

Dorsi March 24, 2014 at 1:23 am


Anna March 23, 2014 at 1:47 pm

No, you should not extend. She is faultering in her duties and not ready for her work Mondays and sometimes Tuesday – IMHO she is not doing her job well. Of course you should address it with her and with your LCC.
Her weekends are hers, but if they are interfering with her job performance, she needs to change it.
Also I personally need to respect my au pairs and feel that they are responsible adults. The fact that your au pair appears so easily to fall under someone’s negative influence worries me… It puts you in a very difficult position – you are not her mother nor want to act like one, but if you see her heading for trouble – what can you do? You still feel responsibility for her but your hands are tied… that’s why I cannot tolerate an immature au pair like that.

AussiePair March 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm

I know it’s a long way away but looking at Pinterest boards has got me thinking about crafting things for my host moms (current and former) for Mother’s Day. I already know what I would like to do for my current host mom, but am stuck on what to do for my former host mom. I’d love to craft something so it’s that little bit more personal, but it needs to be something that will be fairly inexpensive and easy to ship (former host mom is living in a non-continental U.S territory). I made the family a photobook for Christmas just before I left them, so would like to do something different to this. Does anyone have any suggestions of things they like to receive?

Momma Gadget March 24, 2014 at 10:45 am

Aussie AP- how thoughtful’

Honestly a card with a thoughtful note would be appreciated.
If you feel you really want to send her “something” anything small rhat you took the time to make with her in mind would be appreciated.
I love to read so i would cherish a special book mark.
I love jewelery too- I wish someone would make me one of those sophosticated chain/ rhinestone/ embroidery thread friendship bracelets (google this!) maybe with a charm, or picture locket attached.
Does she go to the beach? I’ve seen some really cool personalized flip flops…
It’s hard to make recomendations without knowing your HM. But the above are pretty compact & easy to ship.

AussiePair March 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm

She now spends a LOT of time at the beach, so I’ll definitely look into that. I thought of decorating a coffee mug for her, but am worried about the potential of it breaking while going through the mail

WarmStateMomma March 24, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I completely agree with Momma Gadget about just sending a card or letter. One of my former exchange students sent a mother’s day card and it was extra special because he doesn’t share a lot of emotion.

Lightweight items you could personalize that probably would not break in the mail: plastic cocktail glasses (the big colorful kind that can be picked up at Target or similar stores this time of year), beach towel, beach bag, apron.

TexasHM March 24, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Theres also the more abstract ideas – naming a star after her, ordering one of those maps online that you can put all the pins in for the different places you have visited, etc.

Momma Gadget March 24, 2014 at 3:00 pm
HMi in Boston March 23, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Quick taxes question…
Our first au pair last year (July 2012-July2013) paid her share of taxes for the 2012 year (she had a boyfriend she met and she wanted to be sure she could come back to visit). Now she’s been home in Germany since the summer, is she obligated to pay taxes on the second half of her year, whatever she made in 2013, assuming it’s more than $3900? (She made $5800).
I’ve offered to help and even complete the form and mail the check for her, but wondering if it’s even necessary?

hOstCDmom March 24, 2014 at 8:39 am

Tax liability is for the time she was here, and working here, so tax years 2012 and 2013. Fact that she went back to Germany isn’t relevant, she still owes taxes for her earnings in 2013.

HRHM March 24, 2014 at 9:26 am

I agree although I bet you dollars to donuts that you will NOT find a single AP who paid their taxes after they went back home…

hOstCDmom March 24, 2014 at 9:47 am

At least one of mine did! bc she contacted me from home country on about 1 April to ask a few questions before mailing. :) I give them the IRS link, reminder of the date, and link as part of our “exit dox” when we close out at the end of the year.

I also remind all of mine they are obligated to file AND that they should remember I am using their SSN and noting their wages when I file *my* taxes (re my childcare credit for the childcare services they provided. I have each au pair sign a receipt of childcare services provided also) and thus the IRS will be alerted to wages in respect of them/their SSN.

MommyMia March 24, 2014 at 11:03 am

We also have a former AP who did. She’s German, and eventually married a US serviceman stationed there, and since they may move back here to live someday, wanted to be sure she’s in good standing! (Or, maybe it’s just that she is extremely rule-abiding).

TexasHM March 24, 2014 at 9:45 am

Agreed again but I also know of a couple of ex-APs that had major issues re-entering the country so I think it really depends on how important it is to stay in the good graces of the US government. Apparently they are increasing visibility/scrutiny of this and if you try to come back you may have to pay the taxes and penalties or never return.

Skny March 24, 2014 at 9:11 pm

I know many who never paid and had no problems coming back. Immigration does not usually research taxes situation. The only case someone can really have problems is if they decide to stay in USA (getting married, other visas)…

Skny March 24, 2014 at 9:18 pm

I am originally from a different country and don’t kiss my own kids on lips (2 and 4yo). I remember I was shocked when I realized our first day care provider (great in home day care) was doing it. I was going to complain but decided to let it go. Still was uncomfortable

WarmStateMomma March 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm

@ German and others:

Thanks for the advice on starting AP#2’s year off right. We had a great first weekend with her and are now enjoying the elusive “honeymoon phase” other HFs have mentioned. The first two days were spent mostly close to home, getting her integrated into our family’s routine, showing her around the neighborhood, and bonding with the little one. We went to a special event yesterday and she saw her first concert. HD and I are impressed with her common sense, driving skills (!!!) and willingness to communicate with us. Our little one happily waived goodbye this morning, so we’re off to a good start.

TexasHM March 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Thats so great!!!!! Congrats!!!

Repeataupair March 24, 2014 at 8:25 pm

My host kid does not understand I do not want to kiss her on the lips. I know we come from different cultures but as much as I am willing to adapt myself to the american culture, this is something I do not want to do, it feels way too weird to kiss a kid on their lips.

hOstCDmom March 24, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I think that it totally reasonable RepeatAP! How old is your HostKid? If the child is under 3, I can understand her making that “demand” if that is what she is used to with her parents; but even then, it is totally appropriate that you don’t want to do that and the HP should support you. If the child is much older than 3 then I think it is a bit odd that she wants a non-family member (I don’t say this to mean that an au pair is not “part of the family”, but rather to distinguish between intimate, immediate, lifelong family for this purpose ) to kiss her on the lips.

I would advise any AP that they NOT ever kiss a host kid on the lips, for their own protection. Something like this could be easily misinterpreted by host parents or others who might witness it (teachers, neighbors, friends etc.). I would be very uncomfortable if any of our a tease ever kissed any of my kids on the lips. Granted, I don’t live in a culture or a community where that is a common practice among anyone other than intimate family members ( and in fact I would think there are a lot of parents who don’t do that with their children, or at least don’t do that with their children much beyond the age of two or three ), but I still think in any context that it’s a boundary that a caregiver should not cross.

hOstCDmom March 24, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Uggghhhh, auto correct. Not. “a tease” rather “APs”..!!

TexasHM March 24, 2014 at 9:00 pm

We had this. First AP wasn’t comfortable she directed the younger kiddos (then 9mos and 2) to kiss her on the cheek. We support whatever they are comfortable with (the AP). Second AP (same country) didn’t mind the quick peck on the lips from the youngest 2/3 while she was here. Current AP I haven’t seen kisses on the lips but we support whatever she decides and our youngest is now 3, almost 4 so maybe that will change as they age but we let the APs call the shots on that and we back them up, that’s a very reasonable request.

Host Mom in the City March 24, 2014 at 9:06 pm

That strikes me as very odd, repeataupair. I wouldn’t actually consider it America at all to kids on the lips, particularly outside if immediate family. I don’t even kiss my own kids on the lips. Just tell her no her no kissing on the lips and hopefully after a few times, she’ll get it.

WarmStateMomma March 24, 2014 at 10:21 pm

@Repeataupair: You shouldn’t feel required to kiss the HK, but an effective response depends on the age of the child. If the child is too young to understand why you don’t want lip kisses, it may be possible to develop a special gesture you and the child share instead of a kiss. Then it’s “your thing” instead of you awkwardly brushing off an unwanted kiss. Maybe a special high five, or you hook pinkie fingers, or something silly.

hOstCDmom March 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Re-Reading my response it occurred to me it might not have been clear what I meant in the first sentence. When I said “I think that is totally reasonable” I was responding to your view Repeataupair, and I meant YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT IT are totally reasonable . I think it is perfectly fine that you don’t want to kiss the host kid on the lips (I also think it would be fine if you didn’t want to kiss a host kid at all, ever. even on a cheek.)

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